You may have noticed blogging being a bit light of late – due in part, I suspect, to SAD (again) and due in other parts to the ambulance service not getting any better.

I write about things here in the hopes that someone will read it, about the crap targets, the time-wasting calls, the poor state of our ambulances and all the other things that stop me from doing the job that I'd like to do.

So my blogging has me feeling a bit burnt out.

I need something to excite me, to interest me, to keep me posting here.


I don't think it's a secret that if I want to write another book I'd have to do more than collect and polish posts from here – I think that two books have well and truly saturated that market. So I thought I'd give fiction writing a go.

NaNoWriMo is a month long event where people are encouraged to write 50,000 words over the duration of November – and to do it at the same time as others.

Which sounds like a good idea to get me typing again, to get me writing about things that aren't necessarily ambulance related and to spark some sort of enthusiasm in me.

So I'd like to give this crazy exercise a chance – but I thought I'd check with you folks first. I don't want to drive you all off for a month, never to return…


I'm running a quick straw poll in the comments of this post as to what I do over November.

Do I,

A) Keep writing about ambulance stuff the same as normal, but probably with a bit less frequency.

B) Undertake NaNoWriMo with a story that is about infectious dementia and the possible end of the world as a metaphor for our ageing population.

C) Undertake NaNoWriMo with a story about magic and magical creatures in the modern world. (Basically this extended into a proper novel)

D) Take a month off blogging. Maybe never to return.

Neither of the NaNoWriMo options preclude me writing about ambulance stuff if I get fired up enough about something.

YOU the public DECIDE!

50 thoughts on “Options”

  1. I'm going to be controversial and say D. Take a break. Everyone needs a holiday!If blogging is starting to feel like hard work and is getting you down, you might as well spend your time on something else. You could put it on hold for now, write just a few articles in the next few months, and re-launch in the new year (or whenever) by publishing them all at the same time. Or, as someone else has said, get some guest writers, perhaps?There are plenty of things to do and see in London and beyond, so don't waste your time on something you're not enjoying. Whether you keep it, put it on hold, or bin it – have fun.

  2. Infectious dementia sounds good. It doesn't have to be dark and depressing. Will Fergusons “Happiness” shows what can be done with an end of the world scenario. Thanks for opening my eyes to NaNoWriMo. I'm giving it a go; although with an average of 1600 words a day, it'll probably read more like a pilates pamphlet from my local gym. Good Luck!!

  3. I like the dragons story idea, but there are lots and lots of people writing fantasy fiction, far too few writing about the real world of ambulances etc. Personally I'd like to think it would be far more than just the two books -what you do in your day -and night- job and the ability to write well about it is fairly unique and I hope you regain your previous enthusiasm for it.Could you not combine fiction and EMT experiences? Real life as a basis for fiction worked pretty well for the likes of James Herriott over many books.

  4. Tom – every winter you scare your audience by threatening to pack it all in and never come back. Please don't!I totally get how SAD makes you feel – and how your life seems less interesting to you than it does to everyone else.

    I have nothing to do with the ambulance service but I have read every single post you've written here because what you do is life writ large: you go to work in the morning to use your training to save lives, then spend all day driving maternataxis to a schedule. There's great literature in there somewhere (and pretty near the surface in your case).

    If what you need is to spend a month writing 50,000 words about slaying a dragon and saving the world and that will help you face the mundane crap that goes with the really important things you do, please do that. After all, it's why most people read it (and goodness knows there's always a market for good ones). Why not write a revenge fantasy where the dragon is the AMT and gets to frazzle the timewasters?

    But whatever you write, please don't leave us.

  5. You said: “I write about things here in the hopes that someone will read it, about the crap targets, the time-wasting calls, the poor state of our ambulances and all the other things that stop me from doing the job that I'd like to do.”I think this is what you should do, but in a more focused way. If you actually want to have an effect, then how about producing a document, a manifesto, or list of suggestions? You could cover different topics explaining the current problems, illustrating them with present or previous stories from the blog, and suggesting practical solutions. Then you have something, that you can take to people in government, or the health service, or other people who might be able to influence policy, and try and make a difference. Also bear in mind things from the administrators angle – they will like solutions to problems but they also have restrictions or targets that they have to meet.You could start constructing the document topic by topic, with one or more blog posts on each topic, get feedback from commenters to help shape the document and make it effective.Once you've done that, the media might be interested in what happens to you and your suggestions…?

  6. You wrote a blog post a while ago about a fella in a cafe talking to some weirdo with an extraordinary story. I can't find it, but that was brilliant! I would love it if you would continue that story.

  7. EDIT: Wednesday afternoon fatigue means I didn't read your blog properly.Option C. That was the story I was on about

  8. I vote C for dragons!I liked that post when I first read it, still like it and would love to hear more! 🙂

  9. I'd say, C.I think blogging is probably good for you. I think doing NaNoWriMo, while not for everyone, might give you the focus and the achievable target needed to give the SAD a kicking for a while.

    However in the same vein, I'm not sure writing a load of negative posts about the woes of your work/govt targets/etc will do much to lift your mood, and I'm not sure dystopian fiction that is upsettingly close to reality will help much either.

    I don't think magical creatures really belong on this blog but I know you've got several others where it would be more appropriate.

    No matter what you choose, there's nothing to stop you writing one or more posts on the other options if that's what you want to write – eg focusing on the magical creatures for NaNoWriMo, but popping back on here to write a post that is a normal post for this blog when something mindbendingly stupid or heartwarmingly lovely happens at work.

    Personally, I've got to do another one of those DLA renewal forms which will keep me writing for most of the month. Last time it weighed in at 26,019 words, or 48 typed pages. You'll forgive me if I don't publish my answers in blog form…

  10. I say C most def! Its a subject matter that is obviously close to your heart and you have some resources already with online games etc possibly providing some inspiration; At the root though, I can somehow see magical creatures lurking in the bin laden alleys of east london!!!

  11. Option B – at last someone to write about medicine and social issues who knows a bit about both! And then podcast it in weekly episodes.

  12. B or C. Definitely.Although there must be certain random phrases picked by us that you have to use. Like, I dunno, “And the refrigerator was carried away by the zombie crocodile army, never to be seen again.”

  13. Yay NaNoWriMo! This is my 6th year and I love it, I'm the official cheerleader for the Missouri: St Louis region (username quantumtea)I like option C, especially if you mix in the piece you wrote about something draining the life of hospital workers. And D if you really feel like it. I don't let myself blog during NaNo until I make my words for the day.

  14. I LOVE the infectious dementia idea, and I think you could use it to incredible effect. I have a lot of contact with people suffering from dementia, and I know that, remaining within the bounds of the story, you could include incredibly sad, poignant moments, outbursts of hilarity, true life lessons, the list goes on. It's an amazing idea, with so many directions to explore, and I, for one, would buy multiple copies of it (one for me, and several to distribute amongst friends and family).I would say, however, that it is such a good idea, that you would have to be careful should you choose to churn it out in NaNoWriMo. If you take all the time needed to perfect it, it, IMHO, stands a very good chance of becoming a bestselling novel for years to come.

  15. dragons! dragons! dragons! admittedly, i'm a WoW addict & just a tad biased ;-)seriously, i'll happily settle for anything as long as you don't leave us!

  16. The companion book to NaNoWriMo is “No Plot? No Problem.” The one thing that the guy emphasizes is that the first month 50,000 words is a FIRST DRAFT, certainly not a perfect or even slightly edited version.That said, Tom, I would most prefer BA or CA. Where “A” is only done after you complete your daily word quota churning-out. I would be interested in seeing what effect the writing has on your SADS, how you feel about your NaNoWriMo experience as it happens, or anything else you felt was interesting and wanted to share.

  17. E) Write whatever fiction you want to write and blog about your progress 😀 Maybe post some pages you write, make polls about how the story will progress and so on. Would be fun!Greetings from another fiction writer!

  18. Oh, B, definitely.As soon as I read option B, I instantly really wanted someone to write a book about infectious dementia. You'd do it brilliantly.

    (or option A, you know, if that's how you feel when November rolls round)

  19. “Me too!” I've been waiting to find out how that developed and this seems like a golden opportunity.Looking forward to whatever it is you do though.

  20. What is it with you people and dragons? Honestly. It's been done. (Granted Tom's previous short piece was done very well.)Infectious dementia, say I. That hasn't been done to death, and Tom could bring all sorts of details to it that would give it a nasty whiff of believability. Hollywood, here he comes. Really.

    And as for blogging, do whatever you need to do, take whole months off, but come back. Always come back! I'd hate to lose your window to another world.

  21. Can I just say that I love your blog & would never want you to stop blogging but what am I, your Mother?If you want to go and do something different for a while, go ahead & do it you don't need to ask permission or explain why you wont be around.

    As I said I love the blog and would miss you if you were gone but hey I can go for weeks before I pop in and catch up on your world, your allowed to take those same weeks off to do your own thing.

    Go smell the roses.

  22. B or C – we'll miss you, but hopefully you'll come back to us refreshed and with lots of new stories.Take time out – or better yet, you must know some other medical/emergency types who might like to guest blog for you??

  23. I don't mind reading NaNo stuff from you and I don't think you need to tie yourself to the ambulance shtick. It's your blog, and, as you say, you need something to stay interested. I don't know if I can say which premise I like more, I do love dystopias, but I like that short story you did too. And all my sympathies on the SAD, it's bad enough to manage with university but I can't fathom doing the kind of shiftwork that you do on it.

  24. Option C sounds good. I've joined NaNo this year too for the first time ever. It seemed like a good idea when I joined but I am now feeling a bit nervous.

  25. While we should not make light of Demensia I vote Option B on the basis of your idea it could turn out to be a good comedy. After all, all the best comedians material is “life based”.Option B.

  26. Either C or B (as a fantasy lover I want to hear more about the dragons, but I am intrigued by infectious dementia) I think that C would help you get away from medical stuff and give your brain a place to escape to (at least, that's what I find when I'm writing).Good luck with it – I'm doing Nanowrimo, too, and hoping to beat my personal best of two years ago (5,000 words :-S)

  27. I vote C. Enjoyed reading the short, already care about what happens to the protagonist and like the style. Besides, hopefully, a change will be as good as a rest.

  28. I'm doing NaNoWriMo for the first time – along with loads of people I know! Go for it, and then come back to the blog after.

  29. Option B really sounds Ballardian, and since JG Ballard died some months ago, it would be great if someone with striking life experiences took up that job.In fact, fantasy fiction is really spoiled, you shouldn't enter that field unless you have some strikingly new idea. Your job gave you plenty of unusual experiences, and you shouldn't waste them writing fantasy (with all due respect for fantasy writing, which sometimes I like). What would you write new, after Tolkien, Gaiman, Brooks (and the last two, by the way, mixed fantasy and contemporary) and Lewis?

    But please, don't quit blogging. In fact, one of the motivating factors that convinced me to try to join the LAS (my test is due in some months) is your blog. And I hope your books, of which I already bought (but not yet read) the first.

    Your blog is interesting for many, motivating for some, ispirational (I hope) for many, and it casts some light on ambulance work for all those who don't know it. And maybe, in due time, it will help improving the way LAS people are understood and treated by the public. So please, don't stop.

  30. TomI write this response without reading the other 41 posts.Your plea suggests you need some space. Sorry if that sounds a bit therapist. Guess it is to a degree lol.So maybe you do need a break. I know the rest of us crave your writings and gain so much from them including those of us in the same line of work. Seeing someone lay out the issues allows us to feel the same. We're not alone. We wish those with the 'power' did read and inwardly digest and act positively upon your words and those who respond. What works for you will work for the rest of us and, ultimately, the good people of the UK.I think with your love of fantasy land maybe that'd be the one to follow. If whilst you're doing that you have a yen to return to this blog then you can. No permissions required ;0)Having completed the november work i hope that you'll wish to return because it's your blog that's led me to other blogs and, in turn, my own.At the end of the day you gotta do what's right for you. Whilst i hope that does mean returning to us humble readers i will not begrudge your non-return. I'll just feel a wee bit sad.I, like so many, are disillusioned with the NHS Ambulance Service. Less with the role we play but the with the way our hands are tied by so much and even basic kit or uniform is hard to come by.You've done so much to open up many peoples eyes that, even if mismanagement doesn't read, you have educated many MOP. From another techie, i thank you!Now go write your magic book!

  31. For my part, B or preferably C. Having read your Dragons post, I'd like to read more. Also if it's of any help, I'm having similar difficulty in mustering enthusiasm for my everyday life. So much so I'm unable to commit publicly even to a first blog post.Incidentally for someone that doesn't think they can write, you're doing a sterling job. From your readers' point of view, it would be regrettable if you were to give it all up. From my point of view, it would be the worst thing you could. But it's your point of view that counts. Still I hope you see it from my point of view…

    All the best

  32. All I can recommend is that you do what you feel it is that you want to do.But the dragon/magic book thing does seem quite interesting

  33. I read stacks of fantasy and science fiction, was totally hooked by your writing about dragons and would love to read more. There is no such thing as too many books about dragons. Love the ambulance writing too, it makes my day when there is a new bit to read. I work in the NHS as well and wish I could change things. Hope you enjoy whatever you decide to do – don't abandon us!

  34. I suggest you continue to write about Ambulance stuff, but not less frequently, I have purchased your books, and it would be just great to have another book written of Ambulance stories.

  35. Could B be a chapter or plot point in C?C then.

    Because… I'm steamed at the Vampire/Werewolf/Whatever

    movies/TV shows where the police don't believe in the



    The premise (or 'conceit' as the Brits might say) is that

    these creatures exist. So they must have always existed.

    There's no reason for the police to doubt it.

    (It would be as if police in our world didn't believe in

    the existence of people from Kazakhstan.)

    Like the Vicar in “The Curse of the Wererabbit”, the police

    would be armed for any eventually.

    “Alex!! What's good for Zombies? I mean, what's BAD for zombies?”

    “Salt! Duh!”

    (Could you repel a Vampire with a sunlamp?)

    ((I'd also like to see butt-kicking Fairies.

    Not sure how that would work.

    Slam someone into the ceiling then floor

    a few times in rapid succession?

    Something to the effect of 'Don't F*** with

    Faries, they'll F*** you up!))

  36. Do it! Everybody needs a new project now and then, and I know exactly what you mean about being SAD.I think option C would be best, it could be fun and will take you out of the grim reality of your life. Infectious dementia and the end of the world would surely only exacerbate the SAD problem?

    And if you need to take a month off from this blog, well do that too – we don't own you! We simply respect your point of view and value your opinions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *